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Interview: Jennifer Laurens, author of Grace Doll, on immortality in fiction

grace doll blog tour 300x199 Interview: Jennifer Laurens, author of Grace Doll, on immortality in fiction

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When we think of the Hollywood greats it's easy to think of them as immortal: they're forever frozen in our minds as they were during the heights of their careers.

In her novel Grace Doll Jennifer Laurens takes this to extremes. Her titular character, Hollywood star Grace Doll, is treated with an anti-ageing medication in order to preserve her breathtaking beauty.

The novel traces Grace's life from her film star heydey in the 1940s through to the present day, and Jennifer says that working within this time period was a very deliberate decision.

'I like the growing optimism of the 40s, and I adore the glamour, the newness, the discovery. I think readers are enjoying taking a step back into reality instead of the trips into a future that has been portrayed as dark in so much of film and literature.'

But Grace Doll certainly hits a few dark notes of its own, and the theme of immortality certainly resonates with today's youth-obsessed world.

'Fantasising about living forever is a thought that most people toy with as their body slows down, as wrinkles change their appearance, as disease sets in, as those we love are taken from us. The process of ageing can be depressing.'

However, the immortality treatment Grace is subjected to in Grace Doll isn't only about beauty.

'The antagonist Rufus Solomon has immortalised for his own greednot only does he want to own her body and soul forever, but to make money off her talent and beauty as long as he can. He wants the notoriety.'

Solomon sees himself as a 'Hollywood god', says Jennifer, adding that this is how many of the producers during the 1940s saw themselves.

Laurens explains that during the 40s Hollywood actors were effectively 'owned' by studios for the duration of their contracts.

'Often, the actors werent paid much. At one point, Shirley Temple was making $150 a week. Studio moguls felt they could do what they wanted with their 'property'.'

Producers were also notorious for manipulating the images of the actors whose contracts they purchased.

'Judy Garland was 13 or 14 when she was signed by Louis B, Mayer at MGMand was quickly moved up from ingenue to woman even though her age didnt coincide with the move.'

This set-up provided a perfect backdrop against which Jennifer could pin her antagonist's desire to 'own, control, and mould Grace the way he wanted to.'

Jennifer was very aware of how these issues are still pervasive today, if in a slightly different incarnation.

'Theres no doubt the media pushes idealised images of what women should look likefor their own gain and the monetary gain of other industries such as fashion and cosmetics. Im distressed at how young everyone the media focuses on is these days. Girls are being sexualised in fashion photography, in television and in books at a younger and younger age.'

Jennifer tries to shy away from doing the same in her work while still striving for an element of realism.

'I also tried to show Grace's enslavement in a very real, yet not gratuitous way because first and foremost, my own children are going to read my work and I never write something I would not allow my own children to read.'

About the book:

grace doll cover 187x300 Interview: Jennifer Laurens, author of Grace Doll, on immortality in fiction

Grace'Doll'had everything a girl could want: Fame. Fortune. Beauty.Everything except, of course, her freedom. So when a powerful movie producer forces an experimental treatment on'Graceone thats purported to make beauty immortalshe stages her own death to escape him.With the help of trusted friends,'Grace'slips into hiding. Shes forever flawless, forever young and forever pursued by her past.

But when a stranger arrives on her doorstep, holding the key to a life she thought shed left behind,'Grace'must decide between the safety shes known and embracing the role she was born to play.

Purchase'Grace Doll from Amazon | Barnes & Noble
About Jennifer Laurens:
jennifer laurens photo Interview: Jennifer Laurens, author of Grace Doll, on immortality in fiction
I write YA books. Whatever my heart desires, I write. I dont have someone over my shoulder, in some office somewhere telling me what I can and cannot write. Or should and shouldnt write. I listen to my heart, the center of my muse, and trust my instincts.
Ive written since junior high school. An only child, I grew up writing big stories about big families. I also write YA under the name of JM Warwick. My hometown of Palos Verdes, California figures in much of my work, as does my current home of Pleasant Grove, Utah and other favorite places. I love to travel.
They say write what you know and I do. I am a mother, I have six children, five cats and a huge doberman/dane dog. I have a supportive husband and weve been married 25 years. Our lives, though challenging with a handicapped child who has autism, are centered in our family.
My life experiences have worked into all of my novels. Some more heavily than others, but parts of me are in each story. I love stories rich in family drama, where family members overcome obstacles through love and miracles.
Visit Jennifers website | blog | Twitter | Facebook


  1. Thanks for participating in the tour!

    • Stephanie /

      My pleasure, Jennifer. Thanks so much for taking the time to chat to me. :)